Coronavirus and its Impact on the Economy: exploring threats and opportunities

Coronavirus and its Impact on the Economy: exploring threats and opportunities

Coronavirus and its Impact on the Economy: exploring threats and opportunities

Madhuri Saripalle, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business, IFMR, Sricity.

The world economy is facing one of its worst crises since a century. Economies across the globe are seeing a sharp contraction in growth caused by the economic lockdown to control the spread of the virus. This has led to a supply shock, reduction in output, employment and consequently, demand. The Indian economy was already facing serious structural issues and facing a downturn, which probably have receded to the background with the more serious threat of the pandemic at hand. Two important questions are: a) when will the economy restart and what will be the sectoral response; b) what policy measures can speed up the recovery process? It is also a time to reset the economy by creating skills and improving productivity through innovation.

To address the first question, as economies restart, there will be varied response across various sectors. For example, industries such as essential goods and services such as drugs and pharmaceuticals, essential health and financial services such as insurance, production of essential foods such as pulses, etc, will see rapid growth, while industries and services which are based on discretionary spend like restaurants, entertainment, tourism will be hard hit. More detailed analysis can be read here and here. The impact of economic slowdown is widespread because almost every sector is dependent on trade and global supply chains. The pandemic is a double whammy on an already existing slowdown in the economy, which is a an area of much more serious concern.

In this article I will analyse the structural imbalances in our trade sector which have got further amplified with the pandemic and explore how these can be addressed.

Lack of diversity in Trade basket-opportunity or threat?

In our trade basket, if we exclude textiles, the exports and imports are concentrated in just a few products. The top 5 commodities constitute 60-70 percent of total exports and imports in India (table 1). It is time to create comparative advantage in labour intensive sectors such as leather, sports goods, automotive ancillaries to increase employment. The pandemic has given us an opportunity wherein supply chains will be re-routed from the manufacturing engine of the world-China to India so that we can prepare ourselves to skill our young workforce and increase productivity in export-oriented sectors.

Table 1: Diversity in Trade basket in India

S.no.Commodities% Share in Exports% Share in Imports
1Mineral Fuels, Oils and Products1432
2Gems and Jewelry1212
3Textiles101.4
4Electrical Machinery and Equipment511
5Nuclear Reactors, Boilers and parts79
6Organic Chemicals64
7Vehicles other than railway or tramway51.1
8Pharmaceutical Products50.5
 Total6371
 Source: EXIM database. Ministry of commerce, GOI

Decline in trade from November 2019: when will green shoots emerge?

The decline in exports and imports started from November 2019 onwards when sectors such as jewellery, textiles, ores and minerals registered fall in exports. Important sectors such as oil, coal, iron and steel, transport equipment and electronic goods declined as well reflecting decreased economic activity. During January-March 2020, with the exception of ore exports and transport equipment imports (mostly railway and locomotives, boats and floating structures), there has been a widespread decline in trade due to supply chain disruptions. As countries emerge from lockdown, there will be revival in economic activity and there should be enough policy measures both on the supply as well as demand side simultaneously for a balanced pick-up in economic activity.

The Call to Adventure

The Call to Adventure

Call to adventure

The blog is written by Sameer Abraham Thomas. The Author is a Faculty Associate, Centre for Writing & Pedagogy at Krea University.

21 July 2020: I got up earlier than usual today. The sound of rain woke me up at half past six in the morning – or perhaps it was the cessation of the sound; my father told me it had started raining earlier and had abated a little by 6:30.

Waking up in the dark, some pale light shining through the one window in my room, I listened to the soft drumming of raindrops on some roof somewhere, possibly ours, as if it were an alarm, rousing me from my slumber and calling me to adventure.

It seems to me as I write this that every morning is a call to adventure in some ways. What is it that gets us out of our beds? An alarm, perhaps – some sudden sound; or perhaps the cessation or change of some white noise that had lulled us to sleep at night, or that had slipped seamlessly into our ears at some point after we had nodded off and only just now felt the impetus to leave.

Sometimes, we wake up because someone is calling us, and the reason they want us awake and not asleep is our call to adventure. Sometimes we ignore the call and stay in bed. Adventure calls to minds that are not ready to hearken to that call. They are not yet ready. But one day…

I remember long periods of time when my mind wasn’t ready. It was either too busy making itself anxious or curling up in a defensive ball, paralyzing me to protect me from the dangers posed by any and every adventure, no matter how small. Those were not happy days, but maybe they were necessary at the time. Shields do protect us, but they wear down over time, unless withdrawn to make way for a sudden spear. And a worn-out shield can protect you no more than can a mind, tired of defending itself against itself.

The shield falls and then there is nothing left to insulate ourselves from the call, but now we are too exhausted from the battering of our shields to be able to respond. We lie in bed and listen to the call resound like some song at a festival we know we might love but which we are terrified of losing ourselves in. It takes time and courage to realize that perhaps joy lies in letting ourselves get lost; the challenge of facing the unknown, the challenge of choosing the right path, the challenge of fighting the world and not ourselves, and then the challenge of finding our way home – perhaps it was this that our minds were preparing themselves for all along. It took time, but finally they were ready, and then they fell before us, the clang of the fallen shield beginning yet another call to adventure as the spear finally finds itself in our hands. The call to adventure – we didn’t recognize it then. But, if we persist… today, we might.

Current Trends in Banking and Finance

Current Trends in Banking and Finance

Current Trends in Banking and Finance

The blog is written by C. Krishnan. The Author is  Director, Financial Assistance & Senior Advisor, IFMR Graduate School of Business, Krea University.

I joined the banking industry in the pre-computerized era and have seen the many changes over the last three decades. However, the changes that I have witnessed in the last 10 years have probably been significantly more than what I had witnessed in the previous 25 years. The banking and financial services industry has been turning its focus toward innovation to prepare for a future that will be increasingly driven by technology.

Customers and prospective customers are no longer dependent upon banks as they used to be many years ago. Competition from shadow banking and Fintech/TechFin companies is growing. Lakshmi, Pepper, Nao, Ira and, Xiao Long may not be familiar names for the common person; however, they are quite familiar to the banking fraternity. What are they? They are humanoid robots and chatbots that are creating a revolution in the Banking and Financial Services Industry.

Some of the key trends that are re-shaping the BFS industry are:

A. Digital Transformation:

The industry is witnessing a continued and aggressive focus on digitization and the adoption of new and emerging technologies to bring in operational efficiencies, enhance speed-to-market and deliver superior customer experiences. Banks are cutting down expenses on branches to invest in self-service digital channels as mobile and online banking become more popular among customers. Digital wearable devices, which pack the power of smartphones, are making it increasingly feasible for banks to offer targeted services to customers.

B. FinTech Companies:

Many banks are seeking to exploit the opportunities presented by digital, either by leveraging the technologies in-house or by partnering with FinTech companies. Initially, these companies were seen as competitors taking advantage of the void that was created by the BFS industry’s inability to keep up with technological breakthroughs. However, today, Bank-FinTech partnerships are increasingly the norm, with the latter providing marketing, administration, loan servicing or other services enabling banks to offer tech-enabled banking products.

C. Building a Cognitive Side to the Business:

As new regulatory requirements and data protection laws put additional strains on already-stretched resources, emerging technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation are helping banks address these constraints efficiently.

D. Risk: Leveraging technology to elevate risk management:

Regulatory divergence, geopolitical instability, and the possibility of a downturn have created a host of impending risks, requiring financial institutions to rethink traditional approaches to risk management. Additionally, nonfinancial risks remain top of mind for regulators and banks alike and many have begun to sharpen their focus on this emerging subset of risks.

E. Transformation – Key to the Industry’s Future:

To be most effective, banks and financial institutions should re-define themselves as agile technology companies in the financial services industry, not the other way around. This implies that BFS companies should shed their non-core operations, retaining only those businesses that provide true differentiation for customers.

To summarize, as banks continue to cope with the developments that have already made an impact, their ability to transform themselves with speed and agility, and their future strategies to survive the next revolution, will determine the winners and losers in this increasingly digital world.  

Krea announces Post Doctoral and Visiting Research Fellows

Krea Faculty Fellowship

Krea welcomes Dr Nayantara Ramamoorthy, the awardee of the inaugural Krea Faculty Fellowship 2020 and Saloni Atal, our Visiting Research Fellow. Their strong expertise in Psychology ably propels the research vision at Krea. Krea Faculty Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship are set up with an aim to strengthen the research mandate at Krea.

Dr Nayantara Ramamoorthy, did her PhD in Psychology at the University of Cambridge with a research focus on attentional mechanisms in gaze perception — the underlying mechanisms that guide individuals to attentionally prioritise one gaze type (e.g., direct gaze) over the other (e.g., averted gaze) when viewing another’s gaze. She has a Masters in Developmental Psychology from Maastricht University, The Netherlands and a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Delhi. She has also worked as a special educator at the Centre for Child Development and Disabilities, Bangalore, where she designed and implemented intervention plans for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and trained parents to be active participants in the intervention process. Nayantara’s broader research interests lie in social perception and cognition, particularly with a view to understanding underlying pathways in neuro-atypical gaze perception.

Saloni Atal, MPhil, is a PhD student and a Gates scholar at the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge. Saloni is a social psychologist and works on global mental health, gender, labor and social development. Through her research, she aims to provide policy-relevant evidence that drives change on the ground. She is particularly interested in the socio-political economy of mental health and in developing contextually sensitive tools to measure women’s agency and empowerment. She uses mixed research methods and takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on sociocultural theories of knowledge, critical development studies and transnational feminist perspectives.